“If the product is free, then you are the product.”
A week ago I disabled my Facebook account telling nobody. Posting a status about leaving this platform would make no difference at all and would just make more drama to my Facebook “friends.” I used this platform for more than a decade now. I enjoyed using it before but now it just feels empty for me.
When I say “empty,” I mean it just lacks insightful posts and interactions. Nowadays Facebook users just post memes, political rants, spam messages, selfies, endless arguments about who is right and wrong, etc.
After seeing that every day, it was time to decide. I enjoyed Facebook. It helped me remain in touch with my old schoolmates, relatives in foreign countries and get to know people around the globe (especially when I published my first book).
Before I disable my Facebook account, I asked people on Reddit why they did it. Here are some responses I got:
“I honestly got sick of seeing too many posts of a friend I genuinely liked/cared about. People only post good things, best selfies, cute kids’ pictures and bragging about their lives. Often times, I felt like I had to like/love their posts...so I took a break and deactivated for a while. It didn’t take me long to realize it was time to leave. I deleted my account and don’t miss it one bit! (•‿•)”
“I realised that Facebook is the best way to see the worst side of anyone. Cringe, fights, stupid tag challenges, politics, misinformation, you name it. I deleted my Facebook during an election because I was just so frustrated by the incorrect information and people getting into fights over who they’re voting for. Oh and the dumbass memes that usually spawn from it.”
“I spent too much time looking at the lives of people that weren’t important to me and comparing myself to them.”
The Cambridge Analytica Scandal
When I found out about the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it gave me another reason to quit Facebook. People in power took advantage of our data and use it for their own political gain. If you are not familiar with this, you can watch the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” or read “Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America” by Chris Wiley.
The world was never the same when this scandal got out. It was about time we ask the important question in the digital age: “What are these companies doing to our data?” Protecting our data is essential because it involves our privacy. It is who we are. Our data represents ourselves in the digital world.
When we download apps like Facebook, they always ask us to agree to their terms and conditions. These apps always ask us for permission to access our contacts, microphones, camera, and use location services. Once they access these, then they already know everything about the user. Privacy is not a right anymore. It just becomes a privilege.
Hooked Like Addicts
Before we sleep, we check our social media. Once we wake up, we check these apps. Once boredom strikes, we open these apps. They hook us like addicts. Can we blame ourselves for this? The psychologists helped built these apps to hook us.
People are not aware of this. I don’t know why, but maybe they just want to use the app. Or most of us are stuck in the system since most of our friends, coworkers, family are hooked in. We feel F.O.M.O or “fear of missing out.” The fear of missing the current trends, news, gossip, etc. We thought not knowing the current situations makes us not part of the world.
Another problem with social media like Facebook is over sharing. Users are taking in too much information. We are sharing too much of our lives and post it as if it’s very important.
Hooked on these apps can cost our mental health too. Depression and anxiety is rising because of apps like Facebook. We need to learn to control the urge when using these apps.
What's next for my digital life? As of now, I won’t activate my Facebook again. I feel happier, fewer worries, have one less addiction and taking control of my digital life better than before. I remain in touch with my social circle with Messenger. Yes, you can still have Messenger even deactivating Facebook.
For my Facebook pages, I created an account with a specific email to make it an admin with no friends, followers, and liked pages for promoting my work. There are lessons I learned here. First is that you don’t need to be active everywhere. Just because other people use it means you have to use it.
Second, boredom allows us to do other things. Social Media is not always the answer when we feel boredom. We can do other things like reading a book, listening to a podcast, observing our surroundings, spending more time in nature, and other activities that don’t involve mobile phone usage.
And last, social media affects our personality. Whether we see things we love or hate, this can change our perception of our reality. What’s worse is sometimes, it can get worse. We’ve seen the rise of endless rants on Facebook. Users nowadays don’t think before they post. As long as they get the temporary moment of fame it’s fine with them. Never do this. Always think before you post.